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8 Players Who Will Disappoint in 2019 (Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 12, 2019

It will be tough for Kyle Freeland to surpass expectations as drastically in 2019 as he did last year

Few things in fantasy are more disappointing than spending a pick on a player you’ve got high expectations for, only for them to crush your season and perform well under what you’re hoping for. That’s exactly what people who spent an early pick on Brian Dozier last year went through after he produced 25 fewer runs, 13 fewer home runs, and 21 fewer RBIs than he did in 2017 and finished with a pedestrian .215 average.

No one ever wants to suffer from a drastic swing-and-a-miss on a draft selection like that, but part of preventing this is by paying attention to who experts around the industry lack faith in. To help you get an idea of which athletes are due for some regression, we have reached out to our featured pundits to share their opinions on who those guys are to save you from future regret.

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Q1. Which pitcher do you expect to negatively regress significantly in 2019?

Kyle Freeland (SP – COL) 
“Look, we all know Freeland isn’t going to repeat last season’s 2.85 ERA. The bigger question is if he can even pitch up to 2018’s 3.67 FIP with a middling 12.2 K-BB% and Coors Field hanging over his head. The outlook isn’t all doom, as the southpaw showed legitimate growth after the All-Star break (2.49 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 22.1 K%) and does an excellent job of limiting hard contact. Yet it’s still hard to envision a 92 MPH fastball maintaining a .297 wOBA against with an 87.2% contact rate, especially in Colorado. I’d much rather take my chances on Nick Pivetta, Eduardo Rodriguez, Shane Bieber, or Andrew Heaney, all of whom are going right after Freeland in NFBC drafts.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

“Rockies pitchers are always a tricky proposition, but when someone like Kyle Freeland outperforms expected stats by a large margin, a big red flag should be waved. Freeland’s 2.85 ERA is not telling of his 4.35 SIERA. His fly ball rate jumped by seven points, yet his 8.5% HR/FB was a decline of four points and conspicuously low for Coors Field. Freeland has proven to be a workhorse capable of getting batters out without a high strikeout rate, but the abundance of contact he allows may turn against him this season.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Jon Lester (SP – CHC)
“Lester is going to be overvalued this year in most leagues because of his name and the fact that he managed to put up a 3.32 ERA, but his FIP was over four for the second straight season. The 36-year-old also showed regression in several other areas last season including a drop in K/9 rate to 7.38, the first time it fell to under eight in the last five seasons. His BB/9 (3.17) rose to over three for the first time in the past seven seasons and his groundball rate went from 46.2 in 2017 to 36.7 percent in 2018.”
– Andrea LaMont (Lenny Melnick Fantasy Sports)

Jon Lester had 18 wins with a 3.32 ERA in 2018, so everyone seems to just assume he is still an ace. That couldn’t be further from the truth, however. His skill-indicative ERA was 47th out of 57 qualified pitchers and he was a disaster in the second half. Like his former teammate, Jake Arrieta, things can fall apart quickly even for those who were once at the top of the game. I wouldn’t touch Lester in the top 200 picks of fantasy drafts this year.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Mike Foltynewicz (SP – ATL) 
“I’m choosing Foltynewicz. Some of his luck metrics showed that his 2018 success may give something back. For example, he pitched to a BABIP of .251, well below his career norm.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Q2. Which hitter do you expect to negatively regress significantly in 2019?

Shohei Ohtani (DH – LAA) 
“Ohtani is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be throwing any pitches in 2019, but I am hesitant to believe what everyone is saying, which is that it won’t affect Ohtani as a hitter. We all loved what we saw last year, but his 27.8% strikeout rate deserved a deeper look. His average against left-handed pitchers was only .222 so don’t be surprised when you see him sitting out against lefty pitchers. Watch out if he gets behind in the count. Last season, he hit .189 and struck out 91 times in 196 at-bats when he got behind.”
– Andrea LaMont (Lenny Melnick Fantasy Sports)

C.J. Cron (1B/DH – MIN) 
“Don’t expect another 30 homers for Cron. A 38.8% fly-ball rate is far from elite, but he netted a 21.3% HR/FB rate despite popping up (18.6%) more than all but two qualified hitters. His poor plate skills make it impossible to anticipate anything better than last season’s .253 batting average in a regular role, which isn’t necessarily secure. Even in a breakout year, Cron posted a lower wOBA against righties (.328) than fellow Twins signee Lucas Duda (.347), so a platoon makes too much sense to ignore.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Jose Peraza (SS – CIN)
“If Peraza steals 20 bases, it won’t be a surprise since he’s done that three years in a row. If he hits 14 HRs again, I would be shocked. Peraza suddenly elevated his fly ball rate to 38% last year and raised his hard-hit rate from 21.4% to 29.5%. That’s not his game, especially if he’s established in the leadoff spot all year with Billy Hamilton out of the mix. Only three of his homers came from the leadoff spot last year and he may be tasked with taking a more conservative approach as well.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL) 
“Albies still has loads of hype surrounding him because of one great month. After April, he didn’t have a single month with an OPS over .800, and his second half was a trainwreck, batting .226 with four homers and 17 RBIs. There is enormous upside, of course, but that is the type of player you take around the ninth or 10th round, not in the fourth where he is currently being selected.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

David Peralta (OF – ARI) 
“Peralta is my pick. He has too much of a groundball tilt to his batting profile. His HR/FB rate doubled last year, which is due for some correction.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Thank you to the experts for naming their regression candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for more advice all season long.

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